THE UK Supreme Court has ruled that the investigation into the murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane 30 years ago was "not effective", paving the way for a new inquiry.
Human rights lawyer Finucane, 39, was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his three children and wife Geraldine, who was also injured, at their home in north Belfast on February 12, 1989.
In 2011, the UK Government under the then Prime Minister David Cameron finally admitted Finucane's killers had acted in collusion with British intelligence services, but no one has ever been prosecuted.
Geraldine Finucane later accused Mr Cameron's government of having "reneged" on a promise to hold a public inquiry into her husband's killing, after the former PM instead ordered a less wide-ranging independent review.
The review, carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva QC, found "shocking" levels of state collusion involving the army, police and MI5, but ruled out an "overarching state conspiracy" – findings branded a "sham" by the Finucane family.
This morning, just over three decades on from her husband's murder, the Supreme Court in London ruled that Mrs Finucane had indeed been given "an unequivocal undertaking to hold a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's death".
Five Supreme Court Justices, in a unanimous judgment, declared that the review carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva was not an effective investigation into Finucane's murder.
They also ruled that the UK Government had not complied with its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to hold an effective investigation into the killing.
The Supreme Court did not, however, order a public inquiry into the assassination – one of the most notorious of the Troubles – and left it up to Downing Street to decide whether a new investigation was "feasible".
Although the court did not order a new inquiry, the Finucane family hailed the judgement as paving the way towards one and said they felt "vindicated" in their "relentless campaign for justice".
Speaking outside the court, Mrs Finucane thanked the Supreme Court Justices for their “careful and respectful” consideration of the case.
She said: "This is a historic moment. I stand before you today outside the United Kingdom Supreme Court with one simple message: we won.
We have won!
The British Govt. now knows that it cannot conceal the truth any longer. Today they have been told this by the highest court in the land.
It is time for the murder of Pat Finucane to be properly & publicly investigated in a public inquiry.
Nothing less will suffice
— John Finucane (@johnfinucane) 27 February 2019
"The British government now knows that it cannot conceal the truth any longer. They have now been told this by the highest court in the land."
Peter Madden, a Belfast solicitor and former partner of Pat Finucane, said: "The decision taken by David Cameron to hold a review [rather than a public inquiry] has been overturned by the Supreme Court.
"So it's back to the British government to decide what they are going to do instead to comply with the article 2 requirements [ for an effective investigation]".
He added: "Only a judicial public inquiry can deliver the objective, which is to uncover the truth of what actually happened."